The city also is known as The Garden City was named after Queen Victoria. It is the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest. Victoria, beautiful with hanging baskets of flowers everywhere, darling buildings and a beautiful Pacific coastline. We took the ferry over to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia from Vancouver. There were a lot of family-friendly things to do in Victoria with kids.
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How to get to Victoria, British Columbia
While Victoria is a popular cruise stop, you can get there on your own if you are visiting Vancouver or Seattle. We were in Vancouver for the week and took the luxe BC. ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. We even learned about ocean life while on the ferry. If you are coming from Seattle – you can take the passenger-only ferry from downtown Seattle on the Victoria Clipper.
Getting around in Victoria
With its compact downtown, you can easily see most of Victoria without a car. The downtown core and Inner Harbor area are all accessible by foot, and destinations such as Oak Bay or Butchart Gardens can be reached by bus, bike or taxi. You can rent bikes to ride as well.
Fun things to do in Victoria with Kids
Compared to the big skyscrapers of Vancouver, Victoria is more laid back and low key. People come on cruise and ferries to visit Victoria. It has become trendier and more sophisticated in recent years but, still retains its old fashioned charm. Whether you in spending a weekend in Victoria or visiting for a day you can find lots of fun things to do in Victoria with kids.
From April through October, you catch a glimpse of humpback whales, orcas and porpoises on a whale-watching cruise. Older kids will love taking a zodiac boat tour to see these amazing creatures up close. We opted for an aerial view and took a seaplane around Victoria harbor.
The Parliament Buildings home to British Columbia’s working legislature and is also open to visitors. The dramatic domes, turrets and stained glass can be seen on a free 45 minute tour.
You can visit the famed Royal BC Museum which is three floors of history, science and nature that engage all the senses. In the Natural History wing, kids can see a looming, life-size woolly mammoth.
It is hard to miss the Fairmont Empress when visiting Victoria. The graceful, opulent interior of Fairmont Empress 1908 hotel perfectly fits the exterior’s grandeur. Walkthrough the glass-ceilinged atrium, and have a delightful tea (we missed out on this since we didn’t plan ahead).
Kids would love the Miniature World, located inside the Empress. You suddenly become a Gulliver-like giant among the tiniest of villages. This huge collection of crafted models depicting important battles, historic towns and popular stories. The display is divided into themes ranging from Camelot to space and from fairyland to Olde England, it has plenty of buttons kids can push.
Walk the beautiful grounds at Butchart gardens through the rose-covered walkways, sunken gardens and 55 acres of greenery.
Visit Victoria Butterfly Gardens an indoor “jungle” that contains hundreds of fluttering butterflies at various stages of the life cycle, flamingos, South African turacos and koi fish.
The high tea at The Blethering Place tea house was one of the best meals we had in Victoria. (Closed Now) The tea service for two was plenty for the four of us with Mini sandwiches, pastries, cakes, fruits and tea of course. Our first ever high tea!
Dinner at Pescatores, an Italian restaurant was pretty good as well.
Best Experience in Victoria, British Columbia
Riding the seaplane around Victoria harbor for a scenic birds-eye view of the islands and Gulf was a unique experience. We took the panorama tour on the Harbour Air which departs from Victoria’s Inner Harbor. This half-hour trip is an ideal introduction to seaplane aviation and includes spectacular vistas of downtown Victoria and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the Olympic Mountains in the distance. We had two little kiddos and a claustrophobic man with motion sickness. Although the ride was a little bumpy Mr.Suburbia endured it and enjoyed the panoramic view while clutching a sick bag in case he needed it. The splashdown back on the water on the harbor brought the squeals from the kiddos.
Popular Victoria Tours
A Visit to the Butchart Gardens
After a wonderful tea, our tummies full of the sandwiches and pastries at high tea, we wandered around the gardens, looking, smelling and photographing the flowers.
Jennie Butchart who moved to Vancouver Island with her husband to build a cement plant transformed an old limestone quarry into this beautiful space that is the Butchart Gardens. It is a haven overflowing with lush greens, tranquil spaces, a Japanese garden, an overflowing Rose Garden and other colorful blooms.
The Butchart Gardens is a National Historic Site of Canada where you find remnants of the original cement plant and millions of bedding plants in over 900 varieties awaiting you as you wander The Gardens. You can easily spend the whole day at Butchart Gardens.
Two Totem Poles carved in Classic Coast Salish style by Master Carvers Charles Elliot of the Tsartlip Nation and Doug La Fortune of Tsawout Band, celebrate the 100th anniversary of The Butchart Gardens and also recognizes the rich cultural heritage provided by Indigenous People.
Photos from our trip to Victoria with our kids
Have you been to Victoria and the Butchart gardens?
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